Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a monster home run for Disney Theme Parks. Literally every person I’ve spoken to who has managed to get an elusive reservation to walk around the newest addition at Disney’s California Adventure has raved about the experience. Not only can you build your own custom lightsaber or pilot the Millennium Falcon in the Smuggler’s Run ride, but everyone keeps telling me that, for a few hours, you absolutely forget about real life and feel like you’ve been transported to an actual planet from a Star Wars movie! I cannot wait to visit the planet Batuu and see it for myself.
However, while everyone has been enjoying the park and taking pics of the various cool things on display, a bit of trivia has yet to be revealed…until today.
When you build an addition at a theme park, it takes an army of people, permits from the city, and way too many entities that need to sign off and approve what you want to construct. In addition, unlike a movie set, which is only designed to last the length of the shoot, a theme park needs to be built to withstand extreme weather and millions of people. This all means you have to start very, very early.
If you’ve been to Galaxy’s Edge or seen pictures of the park, you know Disney built a few life size ships: An X-wing fighter, the Millennium Falcon, an A-wing fighter, and the First Order Tie Echelon.
While you probably know the first three ships, the last one, called the Tie Echelon, is new and has yet to be seen in any Star Wars movie. And based on what I learned about how the ship landed in the park, it probably won’t be.
That’s because many years ago, when director Colin Trevorrow was still helming Star Wars: Episode IX, I heard he and his design team were asked to help come up with a ship for Galaxy’s Edge. When I first heard it, I figured there was no way it was true. But then I realized they must have started designing the park years ago and maybe there was some truth to the story.
In an effort to get to the bottom of it, I reached out to Trevorrow and he confirmed what I’d heard. Here’s what he had to say about how it happened:
Collider: When you’re building a theme park, you have to start designing years before it’s going to open. I heard the Tie Echelon was actually something you created with your design team when you were on Episode IX.
COLIN TREVORROW: That’s true.
Can you share how you were involved in Galaxy’s Edge and the behind-the-scenes story on creating the ship?
TREVORROW: It was just a natural part of the process. The Imagineering team asked us to develop a new ship for the park while we were designing the film. I took it pretty seriously—it’s not every day you get to be a part of something like that. They let me see what they were working on, so I got to see what Galaxy’s Edge was going to be. I think what they’ve created is incredible. It’s such an immersive experience.
When you were coming up with the ship, was it part of a sequence you had been working on or was it I’ll come up with a ship and then we can find a way to make it fit in the movie?
TREVORROW: It was part of an upgraded First Order fleet. An armed troop transport—the equivalent of a Blackhawk stealth helicopter. We wanted it to evoke memories of earlier ships while still being its own thing. If you look at the elements, it’s kind of a hybrid of designs from VII and VIII, with some familiar elements from OT Tie Fighters like Vader’s Advanced x1. There’s a lot of history in it.
TREVORROW: I’m pretty sure you know the answer to that, but I respect the question. Honestly, I’m just proud to have been a part of it. I love that ship. Put my ashes in it, man.
While it remains to be seen if the TIE Echelon will show up in J.J. Abrams Episode IX (The Rise of Skywalker), it’s cool to know something from Trevorrow’s version of Episode IX was actually built in real life.
For more on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge:
- Galaxy’s Edge: Everything You Need to Know About Building Your Custom Lightsaber
- Galaxy’s Edge: 125+ HD Images Take You Inside Disneyland’s Star Wars Attraction
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run Review: What’s It Like to Fly the Iconic ‘Star Wars’ Ship?
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Merch – See All the Must-Have Items in 50+ Images